BLIND RIVER - Jake Holland, who now has 14 goals, scored twice and added an assist as the Abitibi Eskimos defeated the Beavers 8-1 at the Blind River Community Centre Saturday night.
Ryan Tront (15th and 16th goals) and Kezmin Madden (third and fourth goals) also scored twice for the visitors, who snapped a two-game losing streak.
“Kez was relieved after he scored his first goal,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“He got a good shot on net from the left side of the net. His second goal came pretty much from the same spot. He had just missed a goal a few seconds earlier. I think he hit the post and then the puck came back to one of his teammates, who gave him a nice pass.”
The Eskimos had opened their three-game road trip with a 6-2 loss to the Wildcats in Elliot Lake on Friday night.
Tristan Salesse (ninth) and Brenden Locke (25th) added goals for the Eskimos, while newly acquired Dante Juris (picked up from the Powassan Voodoos) had the lone goal for the Beavers.
Because of all the players the Eskimos were missing from the lineup, checking-line centre Patrick Picard (22, 2-8-10, 18) has been forced onto the second line and he continue to excel in that role Saturday night, picking up a pair of assists after scoring goals in the team’s previous two games against the Wildcats and the Gold Miners.
“He is playing with Tront and (Ryan) Attwood, so he has a little bit more responsibility,” Gagne said.
“Obviously his style of play is defence first and win a lot of faceoffs. Normally he doesn’t play a lot of power play but the last couple of games he has had that opportunity.
“He is a great role player. You can put him in any position and he will do anything he can to help out.”
The Eskimos took command of the game in the first period, as they built up a 5-1 advantage.
“It was nice to get off to a good start,” Gagne said.
“That gave us a chance to work on the things that you are supposed to do when you are up by four or five goals.
“We had a chance to work on our assignments and the little details.
“One of the things that we worked on was trying to eliminate the shots on net from inside the house in our defensive zone.
“We still gave up 36 shots, but it was better because they got fewer shots from inside the house.”
They increased their lead to 7-1 with a pair of second-period goals and closed out the scoring with the only goal of the third period.
While beating the winless Beavers might not seem like a significant accomplishment on the surface, the Eskimos had to overcome a number of factors to secure the victory.
The Eskimos leading scorer, Brady Clouthier (32, 31-31-62, 37), was unable to make the three-game road trip because of schooling commitments at Northern College and forwards Cosmo Amore and Kyle Levis, as well as defenceman Michael Rancourt, are all out with flu-like symptoms.
“The boys who did play, rose to the occasion, especially last night (Saturday), for sure,” Gagne said.
In addition to their own lineup challenges, the Eskimos were facing a team Saturday night that had been bolstered by the addition of forwards Juris and Jack Zanville, from the Voodoos, as well as defenceman Robin Yew, from the Dauphin Kings, of the MJHL, and goalie Ryan Ferguson, from the Eskimos.
And on top of that the Beavers were playing their first game for a new coach.
“I found out right before the game that Don Gagnon is no longer there,” Gagne said.
“Douglas Haworth is their new coach. They had a bit of a crisis meeting in the afternoon and the coach apparently resigned.
“You always worry when there is a coaching change that it is going to give them some momentum. Players become motivated and want to play for the new coach.”
Logan Ferrington made 35 saves to earn the victory for the Eskimos, while Blind River goalie Zach Mills made 42 saves and was tagged with the loss.
Gagne was glad to see one of his goalies step up and play a solid game after Ferrington and Chet Tooker struggled against the Wildcats a night earlier.
“I was happy with Logan’s play,” Gagne said.
“He had 36 shots against and there are a couple of rebounds he would like to have back, but he knows about it.
Ferrington had lots of help against the Beavers from the blue-line corps playing in front of him.
“I was really happy with the way our defence moved the puck on Saturday,” Gagne said.
“They all played with a lot of confidence. We took the body quite often, as well, and we finished our checks.
“That made it difficult for them (the Beavers) to forecheck. We were always on top of them and putting pressure on them.”
Nathan Campbell and Adam Baxter each had a goal and an assist as the Wildcats defeated the visiting Eskimos 6-2 at the Centennial Arena Friday night.
The Eskimos actually got on the board first, as Tristan Salesse put the visitors in front 1-0 just 1:12 into the opening frame.
Elliot Lake counted three goals before the end of the period, however, and skated into the first intermission with a 3-1 lead.
Kevin Miller, Jason Wilson and Baxter put pucks behind Ferrington, who was given the hook following the first period.
Chet Tooker, who came on in relief to start the second period, didn’t fare much better, however.
Picard beat Wildcats goalie A.J. Smith 1:09 into the middle frame to cut the Elliot Lake lead to 3-2, but an Aaron Carmichael goal midway through the period restored the Wildcats’ two-goal lead.
Goals by Campbell and Josef Kittelberger rounded out the scoring for the Wildcats in the third period and made the final 6-2.
Smith turned aside 20 Eskimos’ shots to earn the victory for the Wildcats.
Ferrington, who stopped 11 of the14 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss for the Eskimos, while Tooker made 19 saves in relief.
“Out of the six goals, and the goalies know this, we gave up three goals that anybody should have been able to stop,” Gagne said.
“If you give away three goals like that, it is hard on the morale.
“Even with that, we still came out in the third period and worked hard. You couldn’t tell if it was a tie game or if we were down by four goals.
“We had a meeting after the game and it showed in yesterday’s (Saturday) game.”
ESKIMOS NOTES — The Eskimos concluded their three-game road trip in Sault Ste. Marie with a game against the Thunderbirds on Sunday. Results from that game were not available at press time. Check Tuesday’s edition of The Daily Press for details … In addition to trading Ferguson to the Beavers, the Eskimos acquired defenceman Joe Olson prior to Saturday’s trade deadline. Olson, a 19-year-old 6-2 and 190-pound native of Maple Ridge, B.C., spent time with the Surrey Eagles (2, 0-1-1, 0), of the BCHL, and the Ridge Meadows Flames (18, 1-9-10, 51), of the PIJHL, earlier this season.